Category: blog

Climbing Volcan Baru

No Comments

Volcan Baru is a national park and protected area not far from where we live, as the Tucan flies. On March 9th I received an invitation from Lourdes, the leader of one of the local agro-environmental groups. Gorace sells organic produce purchased in the Chiriqui Highlands, to join her and 5 others on a hike to the top, at an altitude of about 11,000′ or 3400 meters. From here Balboa, I think it was, who was the first European who saw both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans at the same time, the only place on earth where you can do so except at Cape Horn but that’s at sea level.

We left the next morning at 8:15, although I expected an earlier departure but then again I always expect things to start on time at least when it is important to do so. So I got there at 6 as instructed.

It is a beautiful hike from the Cerro Punto side of the volcano. But is is not easy walking as you pass through three vegetation zones at least, and in places you are on cliffs looking at 30-70′ drops on one side. My heavy breathing must have shook the heavens as once we got near the top, 10 hours and who knows how many miles later (at least 8 I think), the lighting and thunder that had been worrying me for an hour now turned into a mostly light rain and hail storm. But we were within an hour of the top, the steepest part of the climb that had me taking one step at a time and then six deep breaths. The younger ones- that would be everyone else- flew by me on the way to secret cabaña Lourdes had secured and which had led me to accept the invitation despite the short notice.

no images were found

I had delightful company. There were two former Peace Corps volunteers including one who worked with Gorace and another who served in Africa. The former still works for the Peace Corps and the other was a recruiter as well after her two year stint in Africa where she climbed Mt. Kilimangaro! Both were a lot of fun and I learned a lot from them about their time in Peace Corps.
Short video of the climb:

Next entry: At the Top

March 8th

Today was mostly about working on PC projects in our office, which is really in my case a desk Anel made for me. Anel lives down the street and he produces various organic products.

In January our sector director asked me to head a project to import refurbished desktops. That is what I worked on today. This means writing letters.

But at noon I showed up at the local school, grades K-9. The government has been pumping money into IT, putting in computers and even internet access. But suddenly they decided not to send teachers. So here is a room with 15 computers (they are 15 short, so some of the computers I will import might show up here) and no teacher. So the principal told the teachers they all had to learn how to use and teach computers. Most of them do not know anything. So Peg and I are going to teach them at least the basics.

Today however was the first day of school and although the principle decided that we should start today, when I arrived things were too chaotic. So he will call when they are prepared.

March 8, 2010

Yesterday morning a volunteer friend and I drove to a cabaña high in the mountains (between 8000 and 9000 feet).  This is a good spot to see birds.  Saturday evening we walked into the forest for about an hour.  We heard a lot of birds and saw few.  Neither of us are birders and other than having a book on Panamanian birds and binoculars we are of little use to one another.   While sitting on the deck overlooking the valley, however, I saw what I think was a female quetzal. In the slide show are some of the birds I saw during my previous with Sarah, a true birder.

no images were found

Sunday morning we not only heard many birds but had 6 good sightings of brightly colored birds plus a few hummingbirds.  This does not count the more run of the mill birds, such as the swifts that were flying about the cabaña.  Most of these sightings were near the forest edge and around the house.

We saw only a single monkey, a spider, but we heard howlers.

Starting at 4 (really at 4:40 by the time people showed up) there was a meeting of our local group.  It lasted until a bit after 8 p.m.!  They were about to start a project to plant a heap of celery and other crops.  The plot of land is an hour walk each way.  One member convinced the others to have each member dedicate a plot for an organic project.  The members will help one another prepare the soil and the like.  Each member will otherwise be responsible for the work and will receive whatever income results.  Organic produce, even if not certified, brings a better price.

Notes from March 2010

March 9, 2010 —

Today was mostly about working on PC projects in our office, which is really in my case a desk Anel made for me. Anel lives down the street and he produces various organic products.

In January our sector director asked me to head a project to import refurbished desktops. That is what I worked on today. This means writing letters.

But at noon I showed up at the local school, grades K-9. The government has been pumping money into IT, putting in computers and even internet access. But suddenly they decided not to send teachers. So here is a room with 15 computers (they are 15 short, so some of the computers I will import might show up here) and no teacher. So the principal told the teachers they all had to learn how to use and teach computers. Most of them do not know anything. So Peg and I are going to teach them at least the basics.

Today however was the first day of school and although the principle decided that we should start today, when I arrived things were too chaotic. So he will call when they are prepared.

March 8, 2010

March 8, 2010 —

Yesterday morning a volunteer friend and I drove to a cabaña high in the mountains (between 8000 and 9000 feet).  This is a good spot to see birds.  Saturday evening we walked into the forest for about an hour.  We heard a lot of birds and saw few.  Neither of us are birders and other than having a book on Panamanian birds and binoculars we are of little use to one another.   While sitting on the deck overlooking the valley, however, I saw what I think was a female quetzal. In the slide show are some of the birds I saw during my previous with Sarah, a true birder.

Sunday morning we not only heard many birds but had 6 good sightings of brightly colored birds plus a few hummingbirds.  This does not count the more run of the mill birds, such as the swifts that were flying about the cabaña.  Most of these sightings were near the forest edge and around the house.

We saw only a single monkey, a spider, but we heard howlers.

Starting at 4 (really at 4:40 by the time people showed up) there was a meeting of our local group.  It lasted until a bit after 8 p.m.!  They were about to start a project to plant a heap of celery and other crops.  The plot of land is an hour walk each way.  One member convinced the others to have each member dedicate a plot for an organic project.  The members will help one another prepare the soil and the like.  Each member will otherwise be responsible for the work and will receive whatever income results.  Organic produce, even if not certified, brings a better price.

The Thickening Plot

The Thickening Plot

Peace Corps policy prohibits volunteer participation in political activities. Panamanian prohibits political activity by non-citizens. I am reporting here on activities that are occurring in the region in which we are working but we  maintain a neutral posture.

The Old Chiriqui River (Rio Viejo Chiriqui) runs from the mountains outside Cerro Punta, all the way to the Pacific Coast. To call it a river might give the wrong impression. At least from Cerro Punta to our area you can walk across it. It sometimes moves swiftly but no one would call it a river on the scale of the Mississippi. In English we would call it a stream.

The Panamania government has contracted with at least two companies so far to install hydroelectric electricity generating plants. One project is well along towards completion. The one in our area has been started, a least to the extent of the letting of the contract, the completion of the required environmental impact statement and the like, at least some work on the river bed and some work on the dams.  The plans call for somewhere between 6 and 14 such projects, depending on who you ask, on a river that runs approximately 80 miles in length.  The portion of the river in our area will be routed through a 10 foot diameter tunnel for a distance of about 5 miles total in two separate tunnels.

Rio Viejo Chiriqui near Volcan not far from the dam
Rio Viejo Chiriqui near Volcan not far from the hydroelectric dam

The

The project consists of two plants, The Pando and the Monte Lirio.  According to the environmental impact study commissioned by the company,

The Pando and Monte Lirio plants are two hydropower projects configured in cascade on the Chiriquí Viejo River… The Pando hydropower plant (HPP) is located about 4 km west of the town of Volcán, Bugaba District, Chiriquí Province. It includes a 28-meter high dam and a reservoir of 440,000 m3 of usable volume with an average storage of 8 hours and covering an area of 18 hectares, which will allow daily peaking power production; a 5.1 km-long derivation tunnel; and a powerhouse with an installed capacity of 32.9 MW…

The Monte Lirio HPP is located just downstream of the Pando HPP tailrace, about 1 km from Plaza Caisán town, Renacimiento District, Chiriquí Province. It includes a 15-meter high dam but no reservoir; an 8 km-long derivation tunnel; and a powerhouse with an installed capacity of 50.4 MW.

The local environmentalists, or at least some of them, want to change the law so that a hydroelectric project can only take 50% of the river flow, instead of the current 90%.   They are also demanding an environmental study of the impact of the entirety of the 12 or more projects (we have heard varying numbers starting as low as 6.)

Electron Investment S.A. is a Panamanian corporation established for the purpose of constructing the project in our area. As seems common in Panama, they are distributing money to local communities for various projects. .  On March 1 and March 2nd I attended meetings with them at the request of our local community.

On Monday the meeting (the second) was attended by representatives of most of the Renacimiento.  EISA had established this committee a month ago in conjunction with the mayor of our region. The committee meets to approve applications for community projects followed by a vetting process performed by the company to determine feasibility and to compare the various projects approved by the committee.  There were several projects approved having to do with extending electrical service to some more remote areas.

On March 2nd we met with EISA here in our town.  This was to discuss other possible projects in our community, our groups role in the anti-hydroelectric project movement, and to discuss reforestation.   During the meeting EISA expressed an eagerness to work with environmental groups such as ours and dismay with the hard line that others were taking.

EISA has stated their commitment to reforesting the area which will be effected by the installation of around 5 miles of tunnels. This will lessen the environmental impact of the project. Our agro-environmental group has experience in reforestation, although not of the scale of the entire project we are talking about here. But they would like to be in the running for such a project.

EISA learned, however, that some members of our group attended a meeting to discuss whether the areas environmental groups should oppose the hydroelectric projects that the Panamanian government has seemingly sprung on the people.   EISA was not sure if attendance meant support for the subsequent statements made by the organization formed as a result of that meeting, whose acronym is APRODIPA.  Our group, however, has not signed any protest documents nor agreed to do so at this time.  In the meeting EISA seemed to accept our groups statement that it had not signed onto any protest agreement.  Our president, however, did state that the 90%-10% was not right and supported the study of the environmental impact of the project as a whole.

The newly formed enviromentalist group APRODIPA is strongly encouraging our agro-environmental group to join the protest.  If our group enters into any agreement to assist EISA then further projects with the local environmental groups might be in jeopardy.

Our group has decided to not make final decision on the matter until they know more.  Proposals to reduce the amount of water the projects can use and other such mitigating factors might change the political situation. They may or may not be interested in the reforestation project or part of it depending on the offer.  They might decide it’s not worth doing for practical reasons, such as too little money for the work involved, or the intent to use non-native species, or perhaps an upcoming environmental study of the projects as a whole might clearly show a very negative impact.  Currently only individual projects must have impact studies.

The Situation: March 2010

This gives you the basic background you need to understand the situation we find ourselves in

The Chiriqui Highlands forms part of the Talamanca Mountain Range, which has the highest biodiversity index of the Central American isthmus, although it is most famous for its bird populations. In 2001 the  Range was designated a Worldwide Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The area contains the International Park la Amistad and the Volcan Baru Park. It is part of the PAMBAC (Panamanian Atlantic Mesoamerican Biological Corredor) which extends from the Colombian border to the Costa Rican frontier.

The isthmus of Panama itself is one of the most diverse in the world in terms of species, with more than 1,300 species of fish, 175 of amphibians, 228 of reptiles, 930 birds and 232 of mammals. The flora has more than 9,520 species, 850 of which are angiosperm, 22 gymnosperm, and 930 compatible fern and related organism. (statistics per publications of Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and ANAM (Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente)).

The forested area also provides a significant contribution to carbon sequestration. The University of Northern Colorado is studying the area of Chiriqui called Renacimiento, whose capital is Rio Sereno on the Costa Rican border. The study seeks to determine current land use, degree of deforestation and potential for providing forestation incentives.

Panamanian environmental authorities began to develop a general land use and environmental monitoring plan starting in the 1996. It was part of a regional study of the MBC (Mesoamerican Biological Corridor) sponsored by the Global Environmental Facility (http://www.gefweb.org/) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Promotion (the World Bank). Under ANAM (Panamanian governmental agency focused on the environment),  the effort identified biological corridors and began to focus GEF funds on still intact areas. This project became known as the Panamanian Atlantic Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Project (PAMBC). The objective of the project was to promote biodiversity and sustainable development.  The Chiriqui Higlands was one of the areas which have received attention in this project.  Local groups engaged in reforestation, organic agriculture and sustainable  development projects as a result.

Much of the fuss in the area is about the Biological Corridor that runs from the border with Colombia to the U.S.  It is an area of extraordinary biodiversity. The Talamanca Mountains, part of the Park which itself extends north into the Bocas province of Panama all the way to the Carribbean coast, has the largest tracts of virgin rain forest in Costa Rica and Panama. More than a third of the plant species are found nowhere else in the world. Here you can also find the ocelot, Baird’s tapir, and the Resplendent quetzal, one of the most beautiful birds in the world and just one of over 450 bird species that live in the Park.

However, there are threats to the ecosystem. More than 80% of the fresh vegetables consumed in Panama is grown in the region. Unfortunately the farmers uses chemical fertilizers, fumingants and pesticides. There is signficficant deforestation, and harvesting of flora and fauna.

The two protected areas in this region are the Volcan Baru National Park and Parque Internacional La Amistad. An environmental education project was part of the program to protect these areas.  A number of projects focused on opportunities to produce income in an environmentally responsive way.

As a result of this there is a lot of environmental activity. But before you can understand what’s going on you also need to know who is who.

La Fundación Natura:

La Fundación Natura is a NGO established in 1991 to promote the protection and conservation of the natural environment of the República de Panamá.

The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy was founded in 1951 and currently operates in all 50 states and 30 countries. It seeks to address threats to conservation involving climate change, fresh water, forests, invasives species and marine ecosystems. There are more than 700 staff scientists and the NC employs a non-confrontational approach. They work with indigienous communities, businesses and governments.

FUNDICEPP

This organization has been in existence since 2001, and with another name, Amiscode, since 1993. They have several employees. They seem to be effective organizers. They are actively helping the 13 members of ADATA, the network of environmental groups in the area, referred to as the Tierras Altas de Chiriqui, The Chirqui Higlands.

ADATA

This is an organization of 13 environmental groups in the Chiriqui Highlands. Gary is helping them develop a website currently housed at http://adataeng.megabyet.net/.

RENACIMENTO COUNCIL OF AGRO-AMBIENTALISTAS

This council consists of about 8 agro-ambientalista groups in Renaicimento, including Apaasac and other members of Adata. They were brought together by the mayor and organized by MIDA, a Panamanian governmental agency focusing on agriculture. They meet monthly, spending three hours helping with one another’s projects, and there is one hour of training.

APRE

APRE is an organization with 93 members who produce coffee. APRE is building a coffee processing plant that takes the coffee fruit and processes it to the point where it is dry, ready to grind then roast. The idea is to give local coffee producers an outlet for their coffee besides such giants as Cafe Duran, the largest coffee producer in Panama, also located in the region. They hope to be getting a better price. The project is supported by the Nature Conservancy, Fundiccep and other organizations.

apresign1

There are other active groups in the area, in fact more than a dozen or so more, but this gives you an idea of how complex the situation is here.

In the next post I will talk about the rising conflicts about the hydroelectric projects in the area.

Environmental Conflict: The Situation in the Chiriqui Highlands March 2010

March 2, 2010 —

The Thickening Plot

Peace Corps policy prohibits volunteer participation in political activities. Panamanian prohibits political activity by non-citizens. I am reporting here on activities that are occurring in the region in which we are working but we  maintain a neutral posture.

The Old Chiriqui River (Rio Viejo Chiriqui) runs from the mountains outside Cerro Punta, all the way to the Pacific Coast. To call it a river might give the wrong impression. At least from Cerro Punta to our area you can walk across it. It sometimes moves swiftly but no one would call it a river on the scale of the Mississippi. In English we would call it a stream.

The Panamania government has contracted with at least two companies so far to install hydroelectric electricity generating plants. One project is well along towards completion. The one in our area has been started, a least to the extent of the letting of the contract, the completion of the required environmental impact statement and the like, at least some work on the river bed and some work on the dams.  The plans call for somewhere between 6 and 14 such projects, depending on who you ask, on a river that runs approximately 80 miles in length.  The portion of the river in our area will be routed through a 10 foot diameter tunnel for a distance of about 5 miles total in two separate tunnels.

Rio Viejo Chiriqui near Volcan not far from the dam

The project consists of two plants, The Pando and the Monte Lirio.  According to the environmental impact study commissioned by the company,

The Pando and Monte Lirio plants are two hydropower projects configured in cascade on the Chiriquí Viejo River… The Pando hydropower plant (HPP) is located about 4 km west of the town of Volcán, Bugaba District, Chiriquí Province. It includes a 28-meter high dam and a reservoir of 440,000 m3 of usable volume with an average storage of 8 hours and covering an area of 18 hectares, which will allow daily peaking power production; a 5.1 km-long derivation tunnel; and a powerhouse with an installed capacity of 32.9 MW…

The Monte Lirio HPP is located just downstream of the Pando HPP tailrace, about 1 km from Plaza Caisán town, Renacimiento District, Chiriquí Province. It includes a 15-meter high dam but no reservoir; an 8 km-long derivation tunnel; and a powerhouse with an installed capacity of 50.4 MW.

The local environmentalists, or at least some of them, want to change the law so that a hydroelectric project can only take 50% of the river flow, instead of the current 90%.   They are also demanding an environmental study of the impact of the entirety of the 12 or more projects (we have heard varying numbers starting as low as 6.)

Electron Investment S.A. is a Panamanian corporation established for the purpose of constructing the project in our area. As seems common in Panama, they are distributing money to local communities for various projects. .  On March 1 and March 2nd I attended meetings with them at the request of our local community.

On Monday the meeting (the second) was attended by representatives of most of the Renacimiento.  EISA had established this committee a month ago in conjunction with the mayor of our region. The committee meets to approve applications for community projects followed by a vetting process performed by the company to determine feasibility and to compare the various projects approved by the committee.  There were several projects approved having to do with extending electrical service to some more remote areas.

On March 2nd we met with EISA here in our town.  This was to discuss other possible projects in our community, our groups role in the anti-hydroelectric project movement, and to discuss reforestation.   During the meeting EISA expressed an eagerness to work with environmental groups such as ours and dismay with the hard line that others were taking.

EISA has stated their commitment to reforesting the area which will be effected by the installation of around 5 miles of tunnels. This will lessen the environmental impact of the project. Our agro-environmental group has experience in reforestation, although not of the scale of the entire project we are talking about here. But they would like to be in the running for such a project.

EISA learned, however, that some members of our group attended a meeting to discuss whether the areas environmental groups should oppose the hydroelectric projects that the Panamanian government has seemingly sprung on the people.   EISA was not sure if attendance meant support for the subsequent statements made by the organization formed as a result of that meeting, whose acronym is APRODIPA.  Our group, however, has not signed any protest documents nor agreed to do so at this time.  In the meeting EISA seemed to accept our groups statement that it had not signed onto any protest agreement.  Our president, however, did state that the 90%-10% was not right and supported the study of the environmental impact of the project as a whole.

The newly formed enviromentalist group APRODIPA is strongly encouraging our agro-environmental group to join the protest.  If our group enters into any agreement to assist EISA then further projects with the local environmental groups might be in jeopardy.

Our group has decided to not make final decision on the matter until they know more.  Proposals to reduce the amount of water the projects can use and other such mitigating factors might change the political situation. They may or may not be interested in the reforestation project or part of it depending on the offer.  They might decide it’s not worth doing for practical reasons, such as too little money for the work involved, or the intent to use non-native species, or perhaps an upcoming environmental study of the impact of the projects as a whole might clearly show a very negative impact.  By law only individual projects had to have impact studies.

Biodigoestor of Don Bolivar- an example of sustainable development

No Comments

One of the creative experiments is the use of a biodgestor.  This video shows you how one member of APAASAC uses his pigs to run a stove!

Bidigestor de Don BolivarEste video muestra el uso de excremento porcino para producir gas.  ¡Uno de los miembros de APAASAC produce métano para su estufa!

Biodegestor de Don Bolivar

THREATS TO THE REGION

No Comments

Development is the primary threat to areas such as this. Agro-chemical farming is a prime example. Agro-chemicals contribute to reductions in the biodiversity and total population of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects a}s well as the flora. These chemicals contaminate rivers and streams on their way to the ocean, where they damage the mangrove swamps and coastal fish. Chemical use contributes to erosion, which in turn leads to further chemical use in an effort to maintain production, as precious topsoil causes silt build up in the rivers and streams.

Hillside agriculture poses a special threat. The Chiriqui Highlands produce about 80% of the vegetables consumed in Panama. Onions, carrots, potatoes and lettuce are common. In places such as Cerro Punta the lack of ground cover produces significant erosion exacerbated by the steep slopes.

Mining is another threat. Mining requires powerful chemicals to extract the ore. These chemicals are hard if not impossible to remove from the environment, while preventing contamination is expensive and difficult for the Panamanian government to monitor for a variety of reasons. Mining also requires road construction through fragile zones, and where strip mining is employed there is significant deforestation.El desarollo económico es la amenza principal a la región. Agricultura agro-química contribuye principalmente a la reducción de la cantidad de mamíferos, aves, reptiles, insectos and daña la flora. Estes químicas contamina los ríos y quebradas en su viaje al mar donde dañan el manglar costero y los peces costeros de Chiriqui. Su uso contribuye a la erosión, y por falta de suelo bueno los granjeros usan más y más químicas. La erosión produce sedimento y otros problemas.

Agricultura ladera, que es muy común en Cerro Punta, es una amenza de otra clase. En Las Tierras Altas de Chiriqui se produce 80% de las vegetales y verduras como cebollas, zanhorias, papas, lechuga, scarola y mas que se consume en Panamá. La cantidad de agricultura en Cerro Punta y la falta de yerbas, destruidas por los químicos, produce muchisima erosión.

La minería es otra amenaza al medio ambiente y la población de seres humanos, los animales y las plantas. La extrasción de minerales como cobre, oro y otras requiere el uso de químicos peligoros que son difíciles o imposibles de eliminar. El agua y el suelo se quedan contaminados. La minería requiere la construción de carreteras en zonas fragiles, cambiando el ambiente, la resulta es la deforestación.

More About La Amistad International Biosphere Reserve

No Comments

Under construction Feb 12 2010

From rare.org

Stretching across the foothills and mountains of southeast Costa Rica and northwest Panama in the Talamanca range, La Amistad Biosphere Reserve is located at a point on the Central American Isthmus where flora and fauna from both North and South America reach their maximum species mix. Comprising 221,000 hectares and 10 different life zones, La Amistad is an area of extraordinary biological diversity. The Talamanca range contains the largest tracts of virgin rainforest in Costa Rica, and more than 30 percent of the reserve’s plant species are endemic. It is also home to the ocelot, Baird’s tapir, and the quetzal. Some 30,000 people live around the site, in addition to the nearly 5,000 indigenous people representing three of Panama’s five ethnic groups who inhabit La Amistad, including the Teribe and Guaymí. Their livelihoods depend on subsistence agriculture, fishing, and hunting.

Threats to the Region

Despite its remoteness and small population, La Amistad Biosphere Reserve is under threat from agricultural expansion, deforestation, cattle ranching, hunting, and the commercial extraction of exotic flora and fauna. There is also persistent pressure to build roads or highways through the protected areas as exploitation of coal and minerals increases.

From Wikipidia

The La Amistad International Park, or in Spanish Parque Internacional La Amistad, formerly the La Amistad National Park, is an transboundary protected area in Latin America, management of which is shared between Costa Rica (Caribbean La Amistad and Pacific La Amistad Conservation Areas) and Panama, following a recommendation by UNESCO after the park’s inclusion in the World Heritage Site list.

The park area is equally split between Costa Rica and Panama, as part of the former La Amistad Reserves of the Talamanca mountain range. It covers 401,000 ha of tropical forest and is the largest nature reserve in Central America and together with a 15 km buffer zone it represents a major biodiversity resource at a regional (ca 20% of the regions species diversity) and global level. This is recognized in its strategic position in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor and its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its cross-frontier position gives it unique potential to improve bioregional planning. The park’s buffer zone includes coffee and beef producers and indigenous subsistence farmers. A consequence of the difficulty of the terrain, the park is relatively unexplored and the only substantial scientific explorations deep into the park have been lead by the Natural History Museum London, INBio and the University of Panama in the last 6 years (2003-2008).

In 2006 the UK’s Darwin Initiative funded a three year collaborative project lead by the Natural History Museum, London, INBio (Costa Rica) and ANAM (Panama), the aim of which was to generate baseline biodiversity information for the park and a map of the biodiversity. This involved a series of seven multi-disciplinary and international expeditions to remote parts of La Amistad during which over 7,500 plant, 17,000 beetle and 380 herpetological collections were made and deposited in the national collections of Costa Rica and Panama. These expeditions also lead to the discovery of 12 plant species, one dung beetle species, fifteen amphibian and three reptile species new to science.

* UNESCO http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/205
* Web page of Darwin Initiative project on the biodiversity of La Amistad

Reserva De La Biosfera La Amistad (RBA)

La
La Reserva de la Biosfera Amistad es un conjunto de áreas naturales protegidas compartida por Costa Rica y Panamá, el sector costarricense del parque fue inscrito en la Lista de Patrimonios de la Humanidad en 1983, y el sector panameño en 1990. Este Sitio Patrimonio de la Humanidad Transnacional es mencionado como Cordillera de Talamanca-La Amistad/ Parque Nacional La Amistad.

El Parque Internacional La Amistad (PILA) fue creado por la Resolución de Junta Directiva 21-88 del 2/9/88, con una extensión de 207,000 has, es una de las unidades de manejo más grandes del sistema de áreas protegidas. Está ubicado en la provincia de Bocas del Toro (cerca del 97%) y en Chiriquí (el restante 3 %) al occidente del país. En tanto el Parque Nacional Volcán Barú fue creado por decreto ley del 24 de julio 1976 con 14,300has.

También la zona de influencia, incluye otras áreas protegidas y las reservas indígenas. Las acciones que se llevan a cabo en este sitio prioritario se han venido realizando en coordinación con grupos de base con el fin de encontrar alternativas económicas y educativas, fortalecimiento de la coordinación binacional y apoyo a actividades de monitoreo sobre el estado de la biodiversidad en la región.

Esta reserva del lado panameño esta formado por las siguientes unidades de manejo.

Áreas Protegidas

Esto consiste en 6 áreas e incluye, áreas terrestres así como marinas. El total de extensión es de 270,151has.

Parque Nacional Volcán Barú (14,300has)
Parque Internacional la Amistad (207,000has)
Humedal de importancia internacional Lagunas de Volcán (143has)
Humedal de importancia internacional San San Pond Sak (16,125has)
Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos (13,226has)
Reserva Forestal Fortuna (19,500has)

La zona de amortiguamiento consiste en tres áreas con una extensión aproximada de 300,517has. La sección no protegida de las cuencas altas de los ríos Chiriquí Viejo, Caldera, Los Valles y Fortuna hasta una cota de 1200msnm.

Bosque Protector de Palo Seco
El área de las Propuestas comarcales Naso y Bribri

La zona de transición se refiere al área que se esta en un cambio de prácticas amigables a las áreas protegidas y compatibles con ellas. Y estas consisten de dos zonas. 1. Provincia de Chiriquí: todas las áreas adyacentes a la zona de Amortiguamiento (Zona de Vecindad) hasta una cota de 1000 msnm. 2. Provincia de Bocas del Toro: áreas adyacentes al BPPS hasta una cota de 100msnm.

Desde su creación el PILA ha estado bajo la responsabilidad de manejo del Estado de Panamá. De tal forma la Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente es la entidad encargada de velar por la conservación de este sitio. Los objetivos de conservación del PILA son los siguientes:

Proteger una muestra significativa de la diversidad biológica de una de las zonas más ricas en fauna y flora que aún permanecen poco alteradas en la República de Panamá.
Proteger las cuencas hidrográficas superiores de los ríos Teribe y Changuinola, asegurando su estabilidad y calidad hídrica para el aprovechamiento de su potencial hidroeléctrico, considerado el mayor del país.

Mantener un marco ambiental natural y estable que asegure el desarrollo socioeconómico y cultural de los pobladores aguas abajo, disminuyendo los riesgos de inundación y garantizando la continuidad de las actividades agroindustriales que se dan actualmente en las áreas aledañas de las provincias de Bocas del Toro y Chiriquí.

Promover la investigación científica y la investigación de la herencia natural y cultural existente en el área.

Aprovechar el potencial turístico del paisaje natural inalterado, así como de sus componentes biológicos.

Estrechar los lazos de amistad y aunar los esfuerzos binacionales en materia de protección y manejo de recursos naturales de los pueblos hermanos de Costa Rica y Panamá.

Las poblaciones aledañas al PILA son comunidades dedicadas principalmente a la producción agrícola, las cuales han influido grandemente al cambio de uso de suelo a partir de 1930 con la extracción madera, posteriormente con las prácticas agrícolas, con la producción de café, hortalizas, además de la ganadería. Estas actividades han ejercido presiones en las áreas naturales, por lo cual el Estado panameño crea los actuales parques nacionales Parque Nacional Volcán Barú y Parque Internacional La Amistad.

En la región hay nueve de las 12 zonas de vida reconocidas en el sistema de clasificación de Holdrige para Panamá: bosque pluvial montano, bosque muy húmedo montano, bosque pluvial montano bajo, bosque muy húmedo montano bajo, bosque húmedo montano bajo, bosque pluvial premontano, bosque muy húmedo premontano , bosque muy húmedo tropical y bosque muy húmedo tropical y una zona de vida no indicada en el trabajo de Tosi (1971), pero que ha sido recientemente confirmada por literatura, la de páramo pluvial subalpino.

Las zonas de vida de tierras altas están ubicadas en las cimas y estribaciones superiores de la cordillera de Talamanca y el macizo del Volcán Barú. Las zonas de vida intermedias se encuentran en ambas costas. En los sectores de menor altura, en el área regional se encuentran las zonas de vida características de tierras bajas. En algunos casos las secuencias de aparición de las zonas de vida no se apega a esta descripción general, debido al efecto de los patrones estacionales de: Precipitación, nubosidad y fuerza y dirección de los vientos.

Contribuciones de numerosos científicos y el cual se basa en: la localización geográfica, condiciones ambientales y composición de especies de las comunidades. En Panamá se identificaron 2 bioregiones, con 7 ecoregiones y 3 complejos de manglar los cuales contienen 4 unidades de manglares. De estas categorías en el área regional están presentes una bioregión y 3 ecoregiones, además de un complejo de manglar con una unidad de manglar.

Mediante estudios efectuados en el área se han identificado ocho objetos de conservación dado que estos son los más amenazados por las presiones humanas en la zona. Los objetos de conservación se presentan a continuación:

Pastizales naturales, mamíferos grandes, bosques nubosos de altura, robledales y páramos
bosques de transición entre bosque nuboso y los bosques tropicales de tierras bajas, humedales de altura, especies endémicas, especies migratorias altitudinales, ecosistemas acuáticos

Seo wordpress plugin by www.seowizard.org.
%d bloggers like this: